The meeting on Friday (6th September) followed on from the ex-Minister of Transport tweeting his consternation while attempting to cross the Solent recently. Lines of communication regarding cross Solent transport issues have been ongoing with Lord Adonis since his visit to the Island, according to Mr Feeney.
After 5 years of consultation, Pro-Link has developed a proposal for an Isle of Wight fixed link, dubbed the ‘Solent Freedom Tunnel’. Infrastructure experts ARUP have offered to perform a £100,000 +VAT viability study into the scheme, which would qualify as a National Infrastructure Project.
In 2017, the fully Independent Isle of Wight Transport Infrastructure Taskforce made strong recommendations for a fixed link feasibility study. The Taskforce had been commissioned by the Isle of Wight Council and chaired by highly respected Christopher Garnett OBE. However, a study is yet to be carried out and no funding has been requested.
“Lord Adonis is astonished that the IOW Council has neglected to implement such an important recommendation. The IOW MP Bob Seely, since being elected, has curtailed the Taskforce, effectively blocking the study, while also setting up a new IOW Transport Board instead which includes Red Funnel and Wightlink as stakeholders.
“While these ferry companies are in control, the MP’s Transport Board is unlikely to support a study that could create radical competition to them”.
Pro-Link has been forced instead into public fundraising for the study. Carl continues:
“Sadly, even though Lord Adonis has assured help when possible, the meeting at Westminster concluded with him unable to assist study funding until the IOW Council and MP requests it.
“This is also thwarting island business leaders and others from donating to a study. They are aware that positive study conclusions could similarly be ignored, as has happened with the IOW Infrastructure Taskforce recommendations”.
“Every independent poll held in the last 5 years gives overwhelming support for a fixed link study. The campaign to facilitate cross Solent freedom will continue for as long as it takes… with whatever it takes. Quitting is not an option”.